His Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos
President of the Philippines
Entitled “The True Filipino Ideology”
[Released on May 12, 1982]
It is a distinct pleasure and a welcome opportunity to meet with men and women who knew the meaning of commitment. But most of all I am heartened by the fact that you perceive in what you call the Marcos ideology a suitable purpose for your purpose and a moving force for year commitment. I am not surprised by this action on your part, for what you call—and others call—the Marcos ideology is not the authorship of one man; the genuine authorship belongs to the Filipino people, and to you, who are conscious of being Filipino, the ideology cannot be but compelling and attractive.
An ideology, as you well know may be formulated and defined by one man or a few, but it cannot be a true ideology unless it stems from the historical experience—the blood and guts—of a people conscious of their destiny. Just as you and I have been shaped by our respective life experiences, a national ideology springs from the very agonies, sacrifices, dreams and aspirations of a race, a people who have shared a common existence.
That ideology is emergent among our people. I say “emergent” because we have only begun to see ourselves with our own eyes, to confront our history with determined purpose, perhaps, we may even set the date of that beginning a decade ago, when confronted with the gravest crisis our young nation has ever known, we recognized the supreme necessity of survival. Our society was on the verge of collapse, our nation on the brink of dismemberment, and our people at the very edge of bloody, fratricidal conflict.
It was then that we realized that we either had to pull ourselves together or perish separately.
Looking back to that fateful decision ten years ago, we may feel sad that the martial decision had to be taken. But, on the other hand, it was the greatest challenge that we have had to face; and so we are glad that it came at a time when we still had the strength and the fortitude to see it through. For history has taught us that challenges could be so overwhelming as to destroy peoples and civilizations.
Thus we can say that the martial necessity, the martial law experience, has made us better and stronger Filipinos. For in truth we have been transformed.
It is no accident, therefore, that a national ideology had to evolve from that experience, which, however, is but one among many in the history of our people.
From the very first uprising of our colonial history, the Filipino have always had a dream of freedom, dignity, and equality. No Filipino who has read the writings of the heroes of the Propaganda Period cannot but be stirred by the sentiments and ideas of Rizal, Mabini, Bonifacio, del Pilar, Burgos and Aglipay. Their lives and literature are the well-springs of Filipino ideology.
The heroic men and women who fell in Bataan, Corregidor, and in the mountains and hills in the hour of resistance, died for that ideology. The ideology burned in them even if they did not seek to define it.
Now we need to define; it is the task of the moment. A few of our countrymen have strayed to foreign ideologies, different and opposing ideologies, exalting on one side liberty and on the other, equality, pushing, as it were, extreme positions.
These are ideologies alien to our nature for they sprung from foreign soil, shaped by cultures different from our own. For while it is true that Truth is universal to all of mankind, the truths of experience are particularized by history and culture. Unless we can understand this, we cannot take the first step towards national liberation.
Happily, however, we have taken the first steps.
When we exercised the extraordinary powers provided for in the Constitution in order to save a threatened republic and to build a new society, we made a decisive act of freedom. You will recall that the Constitution referred to had to be approved by a foreign legislature and its commander-in-chief provision was intended to quell any act of anti-colonialist resistance by the Filipino people. But we transformed that imposition on our will into a weapon of self-preservation and self-liberation.
Having done so, we proceeded to draft a new charter, one that stems from our own sovereign act, a fundamental law by the Filipino, of the Filipino, and for the Filipino. Thus the New Society was new in its fundamental legal aspect: we had a new charter for a new social existence.
In the eventful decade that followed, we restored our sovereignty on our patrimony: our flag flew over the military bases; parity—over which an entire nation had been divided—was terminated; our foreign policy became the expression not of our servitude servitude but of our independence. For the first time in more than four hundred years, the Filipino could once again claim his soul.
The crown of these political acts was the re-enfranchisement of the Filipinos. We expanded the base of political participation by eliminating illiteracy as a disqualification for suffrage, a heritage from a colonialism which conferred the right to vote to a privileged few. Thus we expanded the electorate from a mere 8 million to a more democratic 23 million.
At the barangay level, the voting age was reduced to fifteen years in recognition of the responsibility of the youth. Workers representation—industrial and agricultural—was effected in the sangunians or councils, again in recognition of the backbone of our society. There cannot be a genuine democracy if the many cannot be heard and properly represented. Such a condition had long infested our body politic; it was not surprising therefore that call after call for national unity had gone unheeded: there was a deep rebellion—the rebellion of the poor.
These are innovations, to be sure. But in one form or another, they were long inarticulated hopes. And it has been the privilege of this leadership to articulate them.
That was the first phase of our ideological evolution. The second phase is that of the New Republic, a republic spawned by a new society.
Having re-established the base of a genuine, viable democracy by a sophisticated political act of liberation, we inaugurated the New Republic whose task was to take off from the radical reforms generated by the new society, of which agrarian reform is the major one. This launched the democratization of wealth by way of response to what we call the rebellion of the poor.
As you know, we called the entire process “revolution from the center,” according to the perception that government is hot above the people but in the center of their lives as a national society. Too long had government been either the partner of the oligarchy or its servitor; in liberating itself from the oligarchy, government once again became the focus of popular power.
We shall be having our barangay elections next week, on May 17. I invite all of you and our people to perceive in the elections the actual power of the people at work. The choice of leaders in the barangay is a direct exercise of power at its most fundamental level. The political business of the barangay is the day-to-day communal existence of our people—their economic, social, and cultural life. Henceforth, leaders who fail at this level cannot hope to succeed on the higher level. National leadership is thus rooted in the very lives of the people.
With that basic political premise, the New Republic thus proceeds from the reforms and transformations in social and economic relationships in the New Society. Economic reforms were designed to spur growth in the countrysides; labor reforms were, suited to the conditions of enterprise and social justice; the educational system was made relevant to the objectives of intellectual and moral emancipation; an overview of social and economic needs found form in a new ministry for human settlements.
At the centerpiece of these endeavors is the Kilusan sa Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran—the KKK, the movement for livelihood and progress.
These are material transformations. Taken by themselves alone, they would not sum up our liberation as a people. We may have drastically changed the social arrangements, increased the economic opportunities, of our national society, but unless we enhance our humanity, we can only be robots with full stomachs. What makes us truly human, what binds us to one another, is the hold, the richness, of our culture.
In the short span of a decade, we had such a cultural re-awakening, a rediscovery of tradition, a re-examination of history and heritage, that a virtual artistic resurgence followed. We have produced more paintings, sculpture, music, literature, drama of rare and excellent quality than in the four decades after the second world war. Let me just comment on the misguided observation that writers have been silenced. These comments are being made by people who have difficulty in being silent. They are so busy carping that they miss the gems right under their very noses. But let us not be partisan here. The present fact speaks for itself: there has been and continues to be a flowering of cultural and artistic expression.
What has spurred all these? Our history. Our consciousness of it, our pride in its glories and defeats, its joys and sorrows, its disasters and triumphs. We rediscovered our history in a moment of crisis; we are consequently making it in an hour of challenge.
Our history, in sum, is forging our emergent national ideology.
I will tell you what our ideology is not. While all-embracing, as it covers our political, economic, social, and cultural life, it is not totalitarian; while assertive, it is not dogmatic. It is a deviant Filipino who will be totalitarian and dogmatic, for there is a sense of irony in the Filipino that is resistant to blind obedience. Our numerous revolts in the last century were all reactions not only against the oppressive but also the brazenly unreasonable.
We cannot adhere therefore to zealous and doctrinaire creeds for they warp the spirit and brutalize what is human. We prefer an ideology that is tailored to the strengths and weaknesses—the wholeness of the human being.
We are human and therefore our ideologies must be humane.
On the other hand, our ideology is not a formula for personal advancement or personal wealth or power; it is not, conversely, a formula of suppressing the individual for the sake of the state; rather is it a basis for united action towards a society which shall exist for the benefit of all. It is rooted in the bayanihan spirit exemplified by neighbors and friends who help out in transplanting a house. No individual profits by this common, cooperative action, but the sense of community is preserved and everyone has a sense of satisfaction. We strike the vital balance between the claims of the individual and the demands of the collective thus maintaining, as I said in my books, “a society of equals in a state of liberty.”
We have arrived at this aspiration because of our common experience of colonial oppression, invasion and exploitation not only by foreign powers but also by local tyrants. We knew from the old society a social condition in which “the degradation of the many was pursued for the effloration of the few.” Hence I characterized the politics of that old society as “personalist and populist.” The true Filipino ideology was suppressed so that democracy for the few could prevail. That privileged democracy was reserved for the rich and the educated, more often than not the westernized and the influential. To a certain extent, we still suffer from its residues—but that privileged democracy has absolutely no place in the New Republic.
As we emphasized in the New Society—and we remind ourselves in the New Republic—a social arrangement which perpetuates bondage to the soil, has no right to exist. A political system which regards illiteracy as ignorance rather than educational deprivation is a false democracy. A society which excludes the youth and the workers from the political process cannot be anything more than a society of privilege; it is not a society of opportunity.
And so we arrived at equality as the ideological basis of the New Society as we came to the reconciliation of liberty and equality in the New Republic. The society and the republic emerged as the inevitable response to the rebellion of the poor and government was enlisted to initiate the “revolution from the center.” I say initiated because it will be the people, you and those who are committed towards achieving a better life for our people, who must preserve the gains and continue the numerous missions of that revolution from the center. And what is your singular weapon? The true Filipino ideology which is emergent from our historical experience and national dream.
In its two phases, the ideology presents itself, first, as political liberation, and, in the second, as social and economic liberation. These, in turn, arc fuelled by our cultural re-awakening which presents to us the task of cultural reconstruction. Our culture, rediscovered in its richness and vitality, is the spiritual architecture, the intellectual and moral masonry, of our political and socio-economic edifice.
Proud to be Filipino, a pride that comes from genuine self-knowledge and not petty braggadocio, we face the modern challenge to our political and economic development; and the center of all these is the Filipino in all his humanity, a Filipino of flesh-and-blood and not the cold, dry number in a statistical table.
Our greatest national resource is, after all, is the Filipino. Our national development begins in his mind; the success of our efforts depends on His stout heart. He is at the very heart of our institutions, they are meaningless without him, as our hero, Andres Bonifacio, long ago realized.
“Who is for the Philippines except the Filipino?” Mabini asked rhetorically.
Historical experience, no less than our forebears, is quite clear: no one can help us. Only we can help ourselves. And this truth applies to all that is foreign to us, whether it be ideologies or institutions. Our destiny is rooted in our soil, our future determined by our particular time and circumstance; our ideology is thus our self-definition.
In promoting that emergent Filipino ideology, we can only tell our people, “We are simply giving you what is yours. We are giving you yourselves. It is nothing outside you; it is inside you, imbedded in your experience as a Filipino.”
And that is the true Filipino ideology.
Source: Presidential Museum and Library
Marcos, F. E. (1982). Speeches by President Ferdinand E. Marcos. [Manila] : Presidential Library.